Murdered Belfast community worker Ian Ogle was stabbed eleven times by a group of men, police have disclosed.
The 45-year-old died after the attack as he prayed with a pastor on a street in the east of the city on Sunday evening.
More than 1,000 people attended a vigil in his memory on Wednesday, bringing the busy Albertbridge Road to a standstill.
Those attending heard a plea for answers and justice for the Ogle family, but no revenge.
There has been speculation that people associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) were responsible for the killing.
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy confirmed during a press conference on Thursday that one line of inquiry was that members of the East Belfast UVF were responsible.
Renewed appeal for information on murder of Ian Ogle. https://t.co/cXOYvf2mSJ
— PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) January 31, 2019
He said that Mr Ogle was stabbed 11 times in the back, just before 9.30pm by a group of at least five men.
His skull was also fractured in the attack.
Mr Murphy said he believed a fight outside a fast food restaurant on the Beersbridge Road at about 8.45pm on Sunday may be linked to the later fatal attack.
“The exact circumstances of that incident are still developing, but I believe that Ian was there.
“I want to hear from anyone who witnessed this altercation or who knows anything about it, to contact police,” he said.
Later, Mr Murphy said Mr Ogle’s killers parked a black Seat Leon, registration number JGZ 7406, in Langtry Court, just off Templemore Avenue before walking to Cluan Place.
“After the attack, they returned to Templemore Avenue – some of the killers got into the car and others dispersed on foot from Langtry Court, through the houses.
“The car was driven along Templemore Avenue, into Major Street and on to the lower Newtownards Road, before being left at Pitt Place,” he said.
He also said detectives were looking at the possibility that Mr Ogle was murdered by people who were members of the UVF.
“There has been widespread speculation about the motive for Ian’s murder. Only those who were involved know how they sought to justify a family man being brutally murdered in the street.
“I want to be clear – there was no justification for the murder of Ian Ogle,” he said.
“I can confirm that one line of inquiry is that Ian was murdered by individuals who were members of East Belfast UVF.
“The UVF have issued statements in relation to Ian’s murder. It is too early in the investigation to establish the veracity of those.”
Mr Murphy said he wanted to appeal to “those with influence” to work with police to help them locate those responsible and bring them to justice, and also issued a fresh appeal for witnesses who may have seen what happened to contact police.
Statement from Alderman Sonia Copeland on behalf of the family of Ian Ogle Alderman Sonia Copeland speaking on behalf…
Six people have so far been arrested by police investigating the murder of Mr Ogle.
Three men aged 31, 45 and 49, and the two women aged 35 and 36, have been released on bail pending further inquiries, while a 21-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.
Mr Murphy said police were “actively pursuing others”.
“We have conducted 14 searches and visited nearly 200 premises. We are viewing more than 70 hours of CCTV footage,” he said.
“I recognise that Ian’s murder was not just an attack on Ian – it was an attack on the fabric of the community. Ian’s killers have united the entire community in condemnation.
“If anything positive is to come from Ian’s murder, it will be that the fear and intimidation that some people use to influence, has been starkly exposed to the community and condemned from every corner.
“If you want to talk to the investigation team at Musgrave police station, you can contact us on 101 referencing 1303 of 27/1/19 .”
Earlier, in a statement issued via Ulster Unionist councillor Sonia Copeland, the Ogle family said they have “suffered tremendous pain and need time to grieve”.